Days of Anxiety – 2

George Eliot wrote these lines in Middlemarch about 135 years ago:

If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.

In the midst of severe anxiety or panic I have heard something like that roar and found there is a price to pay for such a heightened sense of ordinary life. I suppose the only way we can navigate a world of massive sensations is by screening out everything that distracts us from the single goal we have in mind at any moment. There are times when I am stopped completely by a roar that shakes me deeply, but I can’t be sure where it’s coming from. Is it only inside my mind or is it, as Eliot suggests, sounds of ordinary life we can’t bear to hear for long? I’ve written about one terrifying incident when a shrieking chorus of everyday sounds overwhelmed me. It was clear then that my mind had been consumed by a level of anxiety and panic more intense than any I had known to that time. It was all inside me, and I could even imagine ending my life just to stop that inner roar.

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